Report by Karl Chatterton
On Sunday, the 6th annual ‘Rock and Roll’ Dublin half marathon took place. It also doubled as the AAI national half marathon championships. This year saw a change to the regular route to allow the Phoenix Park be prepared for the visit of Pope Francis at the end of the month.
There were very mixed feelings about the changes, mostly due to the inclusion of some of the steepest hills in Dublin! Personally I really enjoyed the day and whilst the course was one of the toughest half marathons I’ve ever done, it was quite scenic at times and having the new start finish are at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham was a big plus.
It has been three years since I last did a half marathon so I decided that it was time to give the longer races another go! My PB for half was 1:24 from a race I did seven years ago in York. This was long before I moved to Dublin and joined the club! My aim was to try and break 80 minutes so I decided to sign up for the ‘Rock and Roll’, expecting the same course as the last few years. Training had gone ok. I’d increased my mileage and done a couple of 13 mile training runs in the Phoenix Park. Things seemed to be on track until they announced the course and I saw what was ahead of us!
The morning of the race I met a friend who was also running and we took a nice, easy jog the short distance down to Kilmainham. The start area seemed well organised and I saw a few familiar Sportsworld singlets gathering for the start of the race.
Following a 5 minutes delay the race started with a short downhill, followed by tight right turn and into the first climb of the day! This short climb up onto Thomas Street was to be the first of many hills along the route. I decided I’d try and run a fairly even pace of around 6min/mile for the first few miles as they were fairly flat. We came up Thomas Street as far as Christchurch Cathedral and took the downhill onto the quays.
Another left and back along past Guinness, then over the Liffey at Heuston Station. We then had a long straight and relatively flat section along the side of the Phoenix Park to Chapelizod. A short detour brought us over the bridge at Islandbridge, through the entrance to Memorial park and back onto the main route. We ran through Chapelizod village and then onto the much anticipated Knockmaroon hill, which according to Strava is about 0.4km with 29m of climb.
Knockmaroon Hill at 8.5k
This was a real slog of a climb, but the main problem was once you reached the top as the climbing didn’t really stop there. It kept going all the way to Castleknock College. From there the course wound its way through the college grounds and up and down some smaller hills, under the M50, up to the Castleknock Hotel before we hit a long steep decline down to Strawberry beds. At the bottom of the hill there was a short hairpin turn, which gave me a chance to see that Andrew and Sadanand were pretty close behind me! I pushed on as the body started to tire nearing 10 miles. The most scenic sections of the course brought us along side of the River Liffey before a climb back up past the Anglers Rest pub to the top of Knockmaroon Hill.
At 10 miles into the race this climb felt even tougher than the earlier climbs. We turned the corner at the top and began the descent back to Chapelizod, where there were plenty of much needed shouts and encouragement from the runners still heading up the hill.
As we turned to cross the bridge at Chapelizod a shout from Neil Purdy let me know that Andrew was now right behind me. Pressure was on now! There is nothing like the challenge of racing a club mate for the last two miles of a half marathon to spur you on when you’re tired and feeling out of energy. Phil was well ahead so we were pushing for 2nd and 3rd place on the team. We pushed each other all the way and were picking off other runners as we made our way up the last couple of climbs and into the final 2k stretch to the finish line. I decided to pick up the sprint a little early and set off as hard as I could from the Gaol. As I came down the finish straight I could see the clock creeping towards 80 minutes so it time to dig in and sprint for the line. I managed to get over the line with 3 seconds to spare! Andrew came in right behind me and we finished in a 51st and 52nd place overall.
It wasn’t long before the fellows club mates all began to gather on the grass to for a non-alcoholic beer and debrief over how tough the course was!
Womens Senior – 4th Place
Sinead TANGNEY 01:27:58 05:07:43 4
Martina NOLAN-JONES 01:45:54 05:07:43
Eileen ROWLAND 01:53:51 05:07:43
Mens Senior – 4th Place
Sadanand Colm MAGEE 01:20:26 04:07:40 4
Martin DOYLE 01:21:36 04:07:40
Oliver HEDBORG 01:25:38 04:07:40
Mens Masters O35 – 3rd Place
Phil KILGANNON 01:17:32 03:57:33
Karl CHATTERTON 01:19:58 03:57:33
Andrew BRETT 01:20:03 03:57:33
Sinead TANGNEY 01:27:58 5th place
Anne BELTON 01:55:41
Deirdre O’Connell 1:42:50
Martina NOLAN-JONES 01:45:54
Siobhan CLARKE 01:55:34
Eileen ROWLAND 01:53:51 (Bronze O55)
Sadanand Colm MAGEE 01:20:26
Oliver HEDBORG 01:25:38
Phil KILGANNON 01:17:32
Karl CHATTERTON 01:19:58 Sp
Andrew BRETT 01:20:03
Martin DOYLE 01:21:36
Richard Cyganiak 1:33:30
Gerard Neenan 1:38:14
Emmet Wardell 1:41:18
Adrian LANIGAN 01:51:21
Paul CANNIFFE 01:53:04
Padraic MORAN 01:44:11 S
Grainne Lynch 47:35
Olive Fogarty 49:11